Jump to content
Left leaderboard
lownote12

Concert photography

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

Seeing as 'ow the opticians say I'm slowly losing sight in one eye and I know a lot of musos, I'm taking up concert photography while I can still field photons. 

Plus its a cunning scheme to get me some bass depping in lieu of payment ;)

Watched all the videos, bought all the right equipment, got permission for my first concert.  What can possibly go wrong?

Any pointers from those with previous experience?

Edited by lownote12
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Microphone stands are a bastard and will do everything they can to ruin your day. Both in terms of visual composition, and pulling the attention of your auto-focus.

Turn off the auto-focus assist lamp on your camera. It won't help at that distance, and will just annoy other concertgoers.

When something interesting happens, mash the shutter button like crazy. You can pick out the best moment when you get home.

Use full-manual mode. Lighting at gigs has a tendency to bounce about all over the shop, and if you're in aperture or shutter priority mode then your camera will be constantly playing catch-up.

S.P.

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't often go full manual for gigs. I tend to go for shutter priority. Given the lack of light and keeping my ISO low, the aperture is always forced wide, so I can judge what's needed just based on movement. Always spot metering too. If I'm after full stage shots I'll go manual, and matrix metering but generally I'm after portraits.

How far away will you be, what kit etc?

 

2019-10-02_06-16-24.jpg

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reasonable size regional concert hall.  Currently en-lensed with 50/1.8, 35/1.8, 80-200/2.8 running on a Nikon 7000 body. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had the D7000 way back, the 50mm 1.8D works beautifully on it, really snappy focus, but you would need to be close. I was never hugely impressed with its high ISO performance though, so I'd be looking to keep it as low as possible. Obviously you can clean images up later if you're shooting RAW 

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

And regarding that Nikon, turn the Active D-Lighting thing off (or it's lowest setting at least - I forget). You don't really want to recover detail from the shadow, it will be noisy and distracting anyway. Embrace the contrast. Look at the best concert pics, and they're often a kind of chiaroscuro style.

Edited by NickD
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
17 hours ago, NickD said:

Had the D7000 way back, the 50mm 1.8D works beautifully on it, really snappy focus, but you would need to be close. I was never hugely impressed with its high ISO performance though, so I'd be looking to keep it as low as possible. Obviously you can clean images up later if you're shooting RAW 

Is the Auto ISO feature any good?  Strikes me this lets me manually set speed (useful) and aperture (useful) but still be flexible - in the one area where change isn't quite so obvious (ISO). 

Edited by lownote12

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, NickD said:

And regarding that Nikon, turn the Active D-Lighting thing off (or it's lowest setting at least - I forget). You don't really want to recover detail from the shadow, it will be noisy and distracting anyway. Embrace the contrast. Look at the best concert pics, and they're often a kind on chiaroscuro style.

Apparently it only engages for JPEG production.  I'll be shooting in RAW.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
39 minutes ago, lownote12 said:

Is the Auto ISO feature any good?  Strikes me this lets me manually set speed (useful) and aperture (useful) but still be flexible - in the one area where change isn't quite so obvious (ISO). 

It is, and it's pretty intelligent too. Work out how far you're happy for it to go and set that as your max limit.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Don't stress about raising your ISO. Better noisy than blurred movement.

Be brutal with your final selection. 5 killer shots is better than 5 killer shots and 15 'meh' shots.

Edited by wateroftyne
  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So a month later, three gigs under my belt and some lessons learned.

A lot of pub and local jams involve older people who don't leap around a lot - or at all.  Neither does the lighting.  So choose and test exposure, ISO and focusing method carefully and then forget about them and  concentrate on the subject. I tried Aperture and Shutter priority, and Auto ISO, but in the end found manual everything gave me best control.

If the musicians aren't doing much, concentrate on capturing expressions and interaction between them to pump some life into the shot.   

VR or other movement reduction is great for helping you shoot handheld. But in dim light, with a  slow lens and therefore a slow shutter speed, VR will do nothing to stop subject movement blurring.  A monopod is a good if slightly awkward alternative if you haven't got VR. 

The latest fast zooms are really useful, but very expensive - a new Nikon 70-200 2.8 VR will cost near two grand. Ditto the 24-70.  But you can get a 20 year old 80-200 2.8 and a 35-70 2.8 for a couple of hundred off eBay, and Tokina do a great fast 11-16 ultrawide which again is reasonably cheap on fleabay.    However - big however, be aware that the autofocus can drift out over time so you may need to fork out a ton for a service.  My ancient 80-200 2.8 bought off eBay turned out to have an AF error of over 20cm... kinda important if you're hoping you've captured a crisp shot of someone's face and your depth of field is less than 20cm. So I'd suggest buying from a shop with a warranty or some sort of comeback.

But good fun... and more to come.

speckledband7.jpg

Edited by lownote12
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Covering Dave Thomas' Band I captured this.  Probably my favourite to date, but soft focus - either my hands, slow shutter speed or the AF issue mentioned above. 

_DSC3332.jpg

Edited by lownote12
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stefano Pilia and the saxophonist from Polar Bear. Sony RX100, no idea of settings.

Stefano Pilia.JPG

Polar Bear.JPG

Edited by Frank Blank

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 03/10/2019 at 13:15, wateroftyne said:

Be brutal with your final selection. 5 killer shots is better than 5 killer shots and 15 'meh' shots.

this - this all day long

As one on the other side of the camera, I was slightly more annoyed than I let on when a few people circulated shots of me at a gig at the Underworld last year, almost all of which were taken between songs - look, here's the back of my head as I'm having a drink, here's my backside as I'm adjusting the amp, and here's me standing around waiting for the lead guitarist to tune up, etc.  Only one shot of me actually playing.  One mate then gave his feedback of the gig, and commented that in all the photos I looked really bored (the fact that  he was there and saw the show but was commenting on what the photos looked like rather than what he saw with his own eyes is another matter) whereas the bass player in the other band really put on a show!  BECAUSE HE WAS LOOKING AT PICTURES OF ME STANDING AROUND BETWEEN SONGS!!! GAH!

I've also had the pleasure (not) of having to wade through several dozen shots of a show from a photographer to find the two or three that were OK to pass on to a journalist who was doing a review and asked us for a picture.  Gave the distinct impression that the photographer wasn't very talented and got lucky in the two or three usable ones, whereas if he'd shown some judgement and just sent us those two or three we'd have thought that he was a genius

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did this on a semi pro basis for 6-7 so...

framing, framing, framing - move your focus point so that the entire subject is the frame, headstock, the lot.  You can always crop afterwards

Spotlights *will* cause over exposure and lens flare so watch out for that and roll the exposure back a touch

You'll need at least 2 bodies - one with either a short prime or a short telephoto - I always took a pair of Canon 1D's the 35-70mm f2.8 L on the 1st body with the 70-200 or a 300 2.8 LIS f2.8 on the 2nd.  Sometimes I took a 3rd lower spec (20D) body with fisheye/semi just in case.

Shoot like crazy - 7fps min, pref 10+

Anticipate - know the material (if possible) so that you know if there's a solo/vocal section/whatever coming up

 

090228 - Metallica - 2119.jpg

090213 - Judas Priest - 1217.jpg

090626 - ACDC - 0113.jpg

080623Whitesnake-0127.jpg

081212 -Slipknot - 1146.jpg

090213 - Megadeth - 2055.jpg

Edited by DaytonaRik
  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 04/11/2019 at 07:24, lownote12 said:

VR or other movement reduction is great for helping you shoot handheld. But in dim light, with a  slow lens and therefore a slow shutter speed, VR will do nothing to stop subject movement blurring.  A monopod is a good if slightly awkward alternative if you haven't got VR. 

 

Thats how VR was intended.  Its not for a moving subject, but for a still subject  using a slow shutter speed.  VR helps when hand holding because its designed to help stabilise the camera/lens from user hand shake,   not subject movement.  Also, VR mechanics take some fractions of a second to kick in, so you have to wait before hitting the shutter, So its not that useful if you want to capture that  facial expression that lasts a nano second.

In fact, during a gig, i'd say VR was no help at all.  Flash to stop action would be most useful, but i presume you'd already be using this. 

  • Confused 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 06/11/2019 at 17:26, fleabag said:

Thats how VR was intended.  Its not for a moving subject, but for a still subject  using a slow shutter speed.  VR helps when hand holding because its designed to help stabilise the camera/lens from user hand shake,   not subject movement.  Also, VR mechanics take some fractions of a second to kick in, so you have to wait before hitting the shutter, So its not that useful if you want to capture that  facial expression that lasts a nano second.

In fact, during a gig, i'd say VR was no help at all.  Flash to stop action would be most useful, but i presume you'd already be using this. 

Using flash for gig photography (as a pro/semi-pro) would be one of the quickest ways to get yourself ejected from the building! Or at least produce only photos of an artist scowling at you.  Even presuming that your flash had the reach to be effective across that range rather than just mess with your exposure. It’s all about wide aperture, balancing “film speed” with image quality, balancing shutter speed with exposure... ...not using flash!

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, TrevorR said:

Using flash for gig photography (as a pro/semi-pro) would be one of the quickest ways to get yourself ejected from the building! 

Not only that - if you're on the pro scene the chances of you getting passes for future events with that label/promoter are seriously hampered!  Not that a pro would use a flash!  The rider usually reads 'First three songs, no flash!"

Edited by DaytonaRik
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, i never thought about flash at concerts.  Good point.   I dont do concert photography, obviously.  I would be using the best method to capture what i wanted, and no doubt i'd get ejected.  :)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

More on old telephoto zooms.  Just heard back on my Nikon 80-200 with its inaccurate autofocus:  "There's no way of adjusting AF on those old models ... but we can give it a wipe over for £50 if you like." No ta. 

So there you are.  Looks like manual focusing for me if I want crisp detail, can't afford a current model.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you tried AF fine tune on the Nikon body ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
42 minutes ago, fleabag said:

Have you tried AF fine tune on the Nikon body ?

Yeah, the error's too bad for that to cope.  Meh, I'll go manual.  All we had when i started photography 40 years ago.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A revisit on gear. Following the advice on various videos/websites I now have too many lenses. They say for beginners low budget, buy a 50 1.8, so you do.  But then you realise you need a wide angle, so you get a 35 1.8.  But they're not zooms and you're always in the wrong place, and you want to get in tight. So you want a 70-200 2.8  But good telephoto zooms are hugely expensive, so you buy a cheap old 80-200 2.8 and discover it won't AF properly.  Meanwhile you've also decided you need a very wide zoom so a 11-16 is in the bag and your wallet's much lighter.  And now you always have the wrong lens on the camera for your need of the moment.

So you google for posts with a  title like "What's a one size fits all lens for gigs", and there are several posts - all pointing towards the 24-70 2.8 zoom which costs squillions. So you do more research and discover the ancient 35-70 2.8 does almost the same for a 1/10 of the price. One is now coming.  I'll let you know what occurs.        

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...